It's Infant Mental Health Awareness Week (7-12 June) and despite COVID-19, our Health Visitors and Family Nurses are working smarter; using technology, and where needed, face to face visits, to ensure they continue to offer high quality support and care to newborn babies and their parents.
The theme of this year's awareness week is "the world through babies' eyes" and health professionals are making a point of stopping for a moment to consider what babies might be feeling and experiencing, particularly during the first 1001 days of a baby's life and what they can do to prompt improved interactions between parents and their babies.
This theme is front of mind for our Health Visitors and Family Nurses, who despite the challenges of COVID-19 and the importance of social distancing, have continued to deliver full health visiting support using a mixture of technology and, if absolutely necessary, face to face visits, while using personal protection equipment (PPE) to keep staff and the families they support, safe.
This vital work must go on. In England 1,688 babies are born every day, which means that 76,000 babies will already have been born during the lockdown and each one is a priority. Jenny Gilmour, Care Group's Clinical Director 0-19 Integrated Services, explains how our Health Visitors are able to maintain high contact levels with newborn babies and their parents. She said: "Our reports show that we achieved 90% of our usual levels during May despite the pandemic. Most of these are digital contacts using video and telephone, but those with compelling need are being seen face to face working with support from our local Children's Centres and GPs."
An important factor to help babies thrive is making sure they benefit from essential health screening which typically take place during the baby's 6-8-week review. Jenny said: "We continue to support families during this period, checking mum's mood and facilitate baby's essential health screening by GPs including the immunisation programme."
It wouldn't be surprising to see immunisations rates drop during the pandemic, but reports show that immunisations rates for children in Tower Hamlets are not slowing, but rather showing good uptake, again at 90% of previous levels.
The successful delivery of our Health Visiting and Family Nurse Partnership services, is wonderful news for infant's mental health during COVID 19. Jenny said: "There has been a real pulling together across local health services to ensure the needs of families and staff are addressed and protected."
"Infant Mental Health Awareness Week is a wonderful opportunity to shine a light on all of the great work being done in partnership across the Tower Hamlets health care and Early Years partnership to facilitate and enable early intervention for babies, helping them enjoy a secure start toward a healthy, happy and achieving life.